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‘Graphic Design: Now in Production’ is currently exhibiting at Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis until 22 January. The exhibition explores how design has grown and evolved over the last decade and, more specifically, how the world of design has been shaped by design-led books, posters and magazines such as Wallpaper*.

The major international exhibition is the largest on the subject since the seminal 1989 exhibition Graphic Design in America: A Visual Language History also at Walker Arts, and the Cooper-Hewitt’s 1996 comprehensive survey, Mixing Messages: Graphic Design in Contemporary Culture. Walker’s Andrew Blauvelt and the Cooper-Hewitt’s Ellen Lupton joined together to examine a contemporary snapshot of graphic design in the social media age. Although the exhibition is curated by Andrew and Ellen, the duo asked some eminent bloggers in the field to guest curate sections, indicative of the changing climate in design and it’s culture; Ian Albinson from artofthetitle.com curated Title Design, Armin Vit and Bryony Gomez-Palacio off Brand New curated the Branding section, and Jeremy Leslie of Magculture.com curated magazines. Says Vit, “Neither of the invited were professional curators, but by virtue of blogging non-stop about a specific subject for a number of years we all had a default, accrued knowledge that a typical curator may have lacked”.(via Brand New).

The show re-visits how graphic design has evolved over the last decade since 2000, expanding from an elite, specialized profession to a universally available and utilized tool. The stratospheric rise in user-generated content, creative software, mobile technology and immense innovations in publishing and distribution have brought people outside the field of practice firmly in the frame. People are “mobilizing the techniques and processes of design to create and publish visual media” while “designers are becoming producers: authors, publishers, instigators, and entrepreneurs employing their creative skills as makers of content and shapers of experiences” (via Walker Arts Center).

The work featured in the show spans the most vital areas of communication and graphic design including the trend towards design-driven magazines, newspapers, books, posters and branding ranging from entire nations to subcultures and corporate businesses.

The Walker Art Center began as a room in the house of Thomas Barlow Walker, who created space for his 20 favorite paintings and opened his doors to anyone who wished to come and see them, thus creating unique venue for the arts in 1879. It was formally established in 1927, and became the first public art gallery in the Upper Midwest. The museum’s focus on modern art began in the 1940s when a gift from Mrs. Gilbert Walker made the acquisition of works by Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore and other greats. Throughout the 60s, increasingly ambitious shows were curated which traveled to other museums in the US and also abroad. As the Walker’s collections grew they began to reflect critical examples of artistic developments across performing arts and visual media with accompanying and developing education programs. Now a globally recognized institute, Walker Arts Center is “a catalyst for the creative expression of artists and the active engagement of audiences.” (via Walker Arts)

The exhibition will go on tour throughout the US after the seminal exhibition closes at Walker Arts on January 22nd 2012.

The tour dates are as follows:

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Governors Island, New York (May 16–September 2, 2012)
Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (September 30, 2012–January 6, 2013)
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Texas (July 19–September 29, 2013)
Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA), Winston-Salem, North Carolina (October 24, 2013–February 24, 2014)

An illustrated catalog accompanies the exhibition.